Whether you’ve been laid off or are seeking a new career, job hunting can be overwhelming. There are job listings to explore, resumes to write, companies to research, and emails to send. All this can make the job search feel like a full-time job in and of itself. This is why during times of stress, particularly during a job loss or a career transition, maintaining daily structure is a necessity.

Having a routine is useful at any time, but especially when aspects of your life feel uncertain. Building routines into your life will help you stay on task, increase your productivity and mental wellness, and provide certainty to uncertain times.

Write a To-Do List

Having a sense of what you need to accomplish is an important starting point when building a routine. If you know what you need to get done, then you can focus on prioritizing your tasks. Make sure to cross off items as you complete them as it will add to your sense of accomplishment.

Set Realistic Goals

Often the goals individuals set for themselves are very large or long-term. Such goals can be overwhelming and can increase stress, lead to procrastination, or serve to decrease motivation. Build out a daily plan where you schedule times to complete specific tasks, and make sure to evaluate your progress regularly and correct if needed. Giving yourself a realistic timeframe will help to decrease the pressure you put on yourself.

Break Tasks into Smaller Ones

Just as our goals can be too large to achieve, so can some of our tasks. Breaking down the items you want to complete into smaller and more manageable segments allows you to stay organized as it brings focus to the job at hand. Completing these smaller, and thus more achievable tasks will lead to more productivity over time.

Take Breaks

It seems counterintuitive to take time away from the things you’re trying to accomplish. However, allowing yourself a break will increase the likelihood of you completing your to-do list. Pushing yourself can sometimes lead to a crash, depleting your energy reserves and making it difficult to get back to work. Try working in chunks of time, and make sure you schedule in your breaks.

Find What Works For You 

Everyone has different needs and preferences. What works for someone else may not be a fit for you. The tools outlined in this article are starting points for building your schedules and routines. You know yourself best, so if something isn’t working, try playing around with the strategies and adapting them to fit your needs.

Remember It Takes Time and Practice

Starting and sticking to a new routine takes time and effort. Just as you will have to learn what strategies work best for you, you’ll need to learn to build new habits and work at keeping them consistently. The important thing is to stay the course, make adjustments when needed, and be kind to yourself along the way.

A lot of things are in flux when we’re going through job loss or a career transition. Having some plans empowers us and helps us to have a sense of control. We hope these strategies will help you as you navigate your career change.

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by Avery Morris, M.C., Registered Provisional Psychologist